Australia has been placed 19th in 2017 World Press Freedom Index, six behind neighbouring New Zealand on 13th, but organisers were critical of media in both countries.
The index found that while Australia has a strong public broadcaster, the duopoly of major media companies News Corp Australia and Fairfax Media was an issue.
It also criticised laws regarding the restricted reporting of refugee detention centres and metadata retention as an impingement of press freedom.
Australia rose six spots from 25th on the index, while New Zealand has fallen eight places in the past year. The change has been attributed to political intrusion on the press.
NZ media is currently demanding changes to the Official Information Act, which creates long waits and sometimes high cost for government information. Another issue is a new bill which was introduced to parliament in August 2016, which would criminalise whistleblowing within the government and increase surveillance powers of intelligence services. The bill may be adopted later this year.
The World Press Freedom Index has been produced by Reporters Without Borders since 2002, identifying how different countries react to challenges surrounding press freedom. The rating is obtained through a questionnaire provided to leading experts in all 180 countries.
The question criteria includes pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.
The index was rounded out with North Korea, Eritrea, Turkmenistan, Syria and China found to have the least press freedom in the world.
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